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U.S. Ski Hot Spots

The Hottest Ski and Winter Vacation Destinations
by Beth Garcia

As snow begins to collect on mountainsides across the country, skiers are packing up their gear and hitting the hottest U.S. ski resorts from coast to coast.

From the fluffy power and blue skies of Colorado to the elegant, East Coast mountainsides of Vermont, winter sport enthusiasts are taking to the slopes, half pipes and ski jumps of the country's most popular ski resorts. Both amateur and expert skiers can enjoy the snow at these ski locations that offer the best of skiing, lodging and winter fun.

Carving some powder in Vail, Colorado
Carving some powder in Vail

Vail, Colorado
Nestled inside the Central Colorado Rocky Mountains, Vail is one of the most popular ski destinations in America. The mountain offers visitors 5,289 skiable acres, three ski areas, four terrain parks and seven bowls. With a maximum elevation of 11,570 feet and a width of 7 miles, Vail is home to America's largest ski resort Vail Mountain Ski Resort. The resort offers visitors beginner, intermediate and expert trails, along with more than 100 restaurants and 250 shops. Vail sees 348 inches of snow each year, and with its nearly 300 days of sun, the mountain continues to be Colorado's largest ski attraction.

Sundance, Utah
Founded by Academy Award-Winning actor and director Robert Redford in 1969, the Sundance Resort sits quitely near the base of Utah's Mount Timpanogos. The pristine resort offers the area's best skiing with a focus on environmental conservation. The resort is known for its eco-friendly efforts including a cultural preserve, nonprofit institute and world-famous independent film festival.

Skiers visiting Sundance can enjoy the 12,000-foot-tall Mount Timpanogos and its 500 acres of skiable terrain. Sundance offers its visitors 41 ski runs suitable for both beginners and experts. The Utah resort also provides nearly 26 kilometers of cross country skiing trails. While staying at Sundance dine at its fresh, organic restaurants or celebrity watch at the annual Sundance Film Festival hosted every January in nearby Park City, Utah.

Jackson Hole valley, Wyoming
A skier's wilderness dream, the valley is located between the Tenton and Gros Ventre mountain ranges. Known as some of the most difficult skiing terrain in the country, Jackson Hole valley is home to the respected Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. The 2,500-acre resort offers skiers two mountains — Rendezvous and Apres Vous — 50 percent of which are covered with expert runs. With its more than 450 inches of snowfall each year, the Jackson Hole resort is also home to some of the country's best snowboarding. The entire Jackson Hole resort is open to snowboarders and offers a super pipe with rope tow and two terrain parks. While staying at Jackson Hole take advantage of its first class mountain sports schools, which teach athletes of all ages how to enjoy the snow.

Stowe, Vermont
The small village of Stowe is home to one of the East Coast's most popular and scenic ski resorts, Stowe Mountain Resort. Resting near the 4,395-foot Mount Mansfield, the resort offers skiing, sledding and snowmobiling. Mansfield, and nearby Spruce Peak mountain, provide a combined 118 ski trails, 59 percent of which are intermediate. Nordic skiers can enjoy Stowe's four interconnected ski centers — Edson Hill Manor, Topnotch, Stowe Mountain Resort Cross-Country Center and Trapp Family Lodge.

The four centers are available through one ski ticket and offer 200 miles of trails. While visiting Stowe, make sure to spend some time at the Trapp Family Lodge, made famous in the 1965 film "Sound of Music." The ski destination also offers lodging for every traveler including luxury accomodations and family-friendly rooms.

Sun Valley, Idaho
Tucked inside South Central Idaho's Sawtooth Mountain Range is one of the nation's first ski destinations, Sun Valley. Established in the early 30s, Sun Valley offers the elegance of European ski resorts at the heart of Idaho's Mount Bald, affectionately known as "Baldy." The 9,150-foot mountain gives skiers more than 2,000 skiable acres with a total lift capacity of 26,780 skiers per hour. The adjacent Dollar Mountain offers visitors some of the best beginner slopes in the area. With more than 200 instructors on hand, Sun Valley nutures beginner skiers.

While at Sun Valley take time to visit the infamous Ram restaurant, the old stomping ground of author Ernest Hemingway. Once known as the ski hot spot for old Hollywood players including Clark Gable and Adam West, Sun Valley still remains the go to spot for skiers looking to experience skiing at the country's original ski resort.

Aspen, Colorado
The historic ski city of Aspen and its sister city Snowmass Village offer a winter lover's dream with four ski areas — Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk. With a combined total of more than 5,000 acres of skiable terrain, the four moutains offer the most concentrated ski land in Colorado. The mountains include plenty of runs for not only beginners but expert skiers. Additionally, Aspen visitors can also take part in other winter activities offered through companies like the Aspen Skiing Company. In addition to activities catered toward children, families and individual skiers, Aspen Snowmass directs travelers to the area's more than 100 restaurants, bars and shops. Known to have attracted celebrities and famous visitors like the late singer/songwriter John Denver or current residents Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russel, Aspen is not only a ski destination but also a cutural stopping point.

Catching air on Crystal Mountain- Thompsonville, Michigan
Catching air on Crystal Mountain

Thompsonville, Michigan
The small, northern Michigan ski town offers some of the best slopes in the Midwest, especially at the the snowsport destination Crystal Mountain. The family-owned ski resort offers not only 45 downhills runs, but also half pipes and terrain parks for snowboarding and miles of cross-country trails. The resort offers the best in winter fun, with family friendly ski activities and fine dinning, plus a luxurious spa for more romantic excursions. The variety of winter weather activities in Thompsonville make it a quiet, yet exciting, ski destination tucked along Michigan's coast.